Sometimes I hate living in a small town. You can’t go anywhere without running into someone you know (and it’s always that popular girl from high school whenever I’m sweaty and in icky clothes because we’ve been doing yard work), there are only 3 decent places to grab a beer, and Walmart is terrifying.
But mostly, I’ve come to love it. The pharmacist knows me by name, the liquor store owner knows what wine I like (maybe a problem?!), and on Friday nights, there’s no better place to be than the high school football game.
It’s been 11 years since high school. 11 years since I marched on that field, head held high in my drum major uniform. 11 years since I felt the rush of the crowd, the heat of the lights, and the excitement of the moment. Some of my best memories were made on that field. Three years of color guard, one year as drum major. Back then, I felt like I had it all, like I ruled the world. And in a way, I suppose I did. My world, anyway.
Mr. Williamson is still the band director, and they still have trumpet solos. The drum major still wears a cape, and the woodwinds still dance to Watermelon Man. But they play pop songs as stand tunes, and the kids all look like babies. Surely we didn’t look that young?
Being back as an adult is strange. So many things have changed…and so many things are the same. Watching the game, watching the band, I’m reminded of those days. It feels like a lifetime ago.
As I look around from a place in the stands that feels utterly foreign to me…I realize…those memories are part of who I am, but their time has passed. Do I miss them? Absolutely. Would I go back? Perhaps…but I wouldn’t stay.
Linda and I watch the game, but not really. Instead, we reminisce, and then thank the stars we’re not as dumb as we were 11 years ago. We talk about how crazy it is to have a lifetime of memories in a place. Of how different it feels as an adult, and how different it isn’t. What we miss about being in high school…namely the lack of wrinkles….and what we’re glad we’ve left behind. And what we’ve gained in the time since.
I may never be as skinny or as carefree as I was then. I may never feel the heat of the lights or the rush of the crowd again. My marching days are most likely over. The group of girls….all 15 of us…..no longer see each other every day.
Now, I know the pain and triumph of working to get the body I want, and of learning to love myself. I’ve learned that with responsibility comes great satisfaction, and even greater possibility. Instead of lights and a crowded football field, I have a conference room…and the knowledge that what I do makes a difference. That’s my rush now. And that group of 15, while still all in my heart, has deepened into a handful of girls I can’t live without.
And don’t even get me started on the boys.